So far we have looked at low variance and moderate variance video poker games. Low variance games have the advantage of a smaller bankroll size requirement and relatively simple video poker strategy. This comes at the cost of playing a somewhat boring game. Moderate variance video poker games are more exciting to play because they have more high paying winning hands. The excitement factor is offset, however, by higher bankroll requirements and somewhat more complex playing strategy.
All this changed in the early 1980s when SIRCOMA, the company that would eventually become International Game Technology, decided to concentrate on perfecting the video poker console. This turned out to be a Vegas-shattering success, as it gave poker players who felt intimidated while playing on casino tables the chance to play their favourite pastime against a faceless ‘opponent’.

These games can be enjoyed at land-based casinos on video poker machines that look a lot like slot machines. Online casinos also offer video poker as all the major software developers have their own variants players can enjoy online through their computers in the comfort of their own home. Most of the video poker versions adopt the 5-card poker game rules as players will get 5 cards and they will choose to discard cards and get replacement cards in order to form the final poker hand. The only difference is that there are no wagering rounds in between the dealt cards as players will only place a wager at the beginning.
The game that you should learn first is Jacks or Better. Most of the other games are variations of this one. Although space does not allow me to give you the complete strategy in this article, you can find free strategy charts at The Wizard of Odds for Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, Double Bonus Poker, and more. Sites like Video Poker Trainer allow you to practice playing online and will correct you when you deviate from the optimal strategy.

The strategy below is the Wizard's simplified strategy for Jacks or Better.  You give up just a tiny part of the return (99.46% instead of 99.54%) and in exchange you get a strategy that's much, much easier to learn and remember than the perfect strategy.  The 0.08% penalty costs you only $0.60 per hour of play on average, assuming a quarter machine played at 600 hands per hour.
As you learned in chapter one, this game and others that followed were developed to satisfy the gambling public’s quest for larger jackpots. Jacks or Better has only the royal flush as a true jackpot. In that game any four of a kind pays enough for you to play 25 additional hands so they are not really jackpots, although it really helps out. Bonus Poker on the other hand pays 80 for one for four aces. On a quarter machine this amounts to $100 with five credits played. While this is not a huge jackpot, it is enough to make you feel like you have won something substantial and you may even decide to stop playing at that point with what you consider a nice win for the session. Also, where the royal flush happens only once every 40,000 hands or so, four aces will occur roughly once every 5,100 hands, which is eight times as often. Playing at a rate of 500 hands per hour, the Bonus Poker player will get four aces once every 10 hours of play, on average.
6. Pair of jacks or better. Discard the remaining three cards. Sometimes players who are used to playing table poker want to keep a high-card "kicker" to the pair -- for example, holding an ace along with two queens. Don't hold a kicker in video poker; give yourself the maximum chance to draw a third high card, or even a full house or four of a kind.
6. Avoid this common three-card strategy – Some players keep three cards in an attempt to draw a straight or a flush. This is a losing proposition and should be avoided. Even if you hit a straight or a flush, you’ll have lost too much with this play to make it profitable. Practice Basic Strategy to have a shot at winning. Three cards to a straight flush, however, is a different proposition and should be played as outlined in the list in No. 2.
You'll sometimes find video poker games online that aren't really video poker games, too. One notorious example was from Slotland Casino. They no longer off it, but they used to have multiple video poker games and even a blackjack game which tied into their linked progressive jackpot. Since the game was just a slot machine game that looked like a video poker game, it was deceptive.
JOKER POKER – Also know as ‘Joker’s Wild’, is played with a deck containing 53 cards in which one of them is a joker and can be used as any card when drawn. The lowest possible winning hand is a pair of kings, and Five of a Kind and a Wild Royal Flush are added to the the mix just as with Deuces Wild. Again, if the pay table is set correctly, the player actually has a 0.64 percent edge over the house with perfect strategy. There are also self-explanatory sub-variations of Joker Poker known as Kings or Better, or Two Pairs or Better.
You will also learn the layout and importance of the pay table, as well as how to properly bet while playing video poker. You will learn and understand payback, return, house (and player) edge. You will learn about the implications of variance, sometimes called volatility. You will also learn what the term random really means when playing video poker.
To be clear, Bovada's not perfect.  Once they got duped by a vendor (Betsoft) who provided progressive slots whose jackpots weren't winnable.  When I discovered this I alerted Bovada, and they pulled all the Betsoft games from the site, but I thought they were slow to do so and didn't offer proper restitution to affected players.  Still, even with this incident, their overall history is better than most; as just one example, there are many other casinos still offering Betsoft's questionable games.
Another type of strategy could favor winning as many hands as possible regardless of the amount of the win. For example, any time a high pair is dealt it would be saved even if there were decent shots at a royal flush or other higher paying results in the same hand. This type of strategy may find the player winning more hands, but the amount won per hand would be significantly less than is possible.
Bonus Poker Deluxe is another variation of Jacks or Better designed to add some excitement to your play with the possibility of getting higher paying four of a kind hands. Bonus Poker Deluxe is different than Bonus Poker because all four of a kind hands pay the same at a rate of 80 for one. This makes Bonus Poker Deluxe a relatively popular game. There are many more large pays because four of a kind hands show up roughly 100 times as often as a royal flush (once every 424 hands versus once every 42,000 hands). Because of this a Bonus Poker Deluxe player has multiple opportunities to score a $100 hit on a quarter game. This is a large enough win for many Bonus Poker Deluxe players to cash out and consider the session a win.
If you’re a fan of playing casino games on mobile – and let’s face it, we all are – then you’ll be happy to hear that video poker lends itself perfectly to mobiles and tablets. This is partly due to the fact that the graphics look even better when crammed into a smaller screen. It’s also because providers understand how much players enjoy not just one or two, but a large variety of games. From video poker classics to variants referencing modern pop culture, there are tonnes of video poker games available at hundreds of casino.

Right after learning the proper strategy, the most important thing about playing video poker is to choose a machine with a good paytable!  Here are some pictures I just took in the same casino, same style game, same denomination.  The only thing that's different is the paytables.  The first one pays 9 & 6 for the full house and flush respectively, and the second one pays only 8 & 5 for those hands.

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The pay back calculations on all of the pay tables listed on this site are based on the fact that every hand will be played with the correct strategy to achieve the highest possible return. Holding the right cards on every hand is the only way to do this and while this might seem obvious many players still do not follow any strategy when they play video poker.
That's a pretty lengthy list for a beginner, but it can be shortened considerably by taking all those three card straight flushes -- open, inside, double inside, with high cards, without high cards -- and lumping them together just below four high cards. That'll cost you a few tenths of a percent, but when you're comfortable with the rest of the strategy, you can start breaking down the categories for more expert play.

5. Chart your course – An easy way to get better at video poker is to simply print out a Basic Strategy chart. As a game of skill, this gives you a much better chance at winning. There are numerous online charts that can be printed and fit in your wallet. If you’re playing online, leave a window or tab open for your strategy guide to make sure you’re making the right moves.
Elsewhere on this site I show you how to figure your average loss for an hour of play.  In summary, you multiply the house edge by the bet size by the number of rounds per hour.  On a 9/6 quarter Jacks or Better machine with proper strategy, that would be 0.5% x $1.25 (remember we're playing 5 coins at a time) x 400 hands per hour = $2.50 per hour.  Not bad.  Except that the formula doesn't work for video poker in the short term.  That's because you'll hit the royal only once every 66 hours on average, and while you're waiting for the royal, the return on the game isn't ~99.5%, it's ~97.5%.  So you're more likely to lose 2.5% in the short term rather than 0.5%.  So we can expect our hourly loss to be closer to $6.25/hour than $1.25/hour while we're waiting for the royal.  Still, $6.25/hour is pretty cheap.  On a slot machine your loss would be closer to $40 an hour.  So you can see why I'm so eager to switch you from slots to VP.
Bonus Poker Deluxe is another variation of Jacks or Better designed to add some excitement to your play with the possibility of getting higher paying four of a kind hands. Bonus Poker Deluxe is different than Bonus Poker because all four of a kind hands pay the same at a rate of 80 for one. This makes Bonus Poker Deluxe a relatively popular game. There are many more large pays because four of a kind hands show up roughly 100 times as often as a royal flush (once every 424 hands versus once every 42,000 hands). Because of this a Bonus Poker Deluxe player has multiple opportunities to score a $100 hit on a quarter game. This is a large enough win for many Bonus Poker Deluxe players to cash out and consider the session a win.
So far we have looked at low variance and moderate variance video poker games. Low variance games have the advantage of a smaller bankroll size requirement and relatively simple video poker strategy. This comes at the cost of playing a somewhat boring game. Moderate variance video poker games are more exciting to play because they have more high paying winning hands. The excitement factor is offset, however, by higher bankroll requirements and somewhat more complex playing strategy.
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